Fresh Hope – Day 61 (Pastor Gillian)

During the 21 days of prayer and fasting, God has done some great things. I am thrilled by the daily testimonies that we are hearing. There are also some great things that He is STILL TO DO as a result of these 21 days.

I have always been an impatient person. I like things done now. (just ask those who work with me).

But after being married to a wonderful chef for 30 plus years, I know that good things take time. Microwave and instant are not favourites in our house when it comes to food or drinks…

So why is it that it’s any different when it comes to God?

Good things take time… GREAT things take longer.

Breakthroughs don’t happen overnight.

To get a breakthrough, you have to ‘break through’.

There will be a resistance to your breakthrough prayer.

So keep praying, keep believing, and make fasting a part of your lifestyle. And in doing so, see your life go from good to GREAT this year and see God do some amazing things in and through you.

The best my friends, is yet to come.

Ephesians 3:20-21

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 60

As we approach the last day of our corporate fast, it’s important to realise that the greatest change in response to our prayers comes in the form of a change within ME.

 

As much as God wants to change ‘things’ for us, He most of all wants to change things in us.

 

What does a change in me look like?

 

Well, it’s different for every individual and is dependant on your level of openness to change, coupled with the areas within your life that need to change.

 

One of the greatest changes that should come as a result of the last 3 weeks should be evident in our acceptance of God’s will over our own desire.

 

Not every prayer that you have prayed will get the answer that you wanted, but rest assured that every prayer that you have prayed will receive an answer.

 

The gauge of the level of your change and growth in spiritual maturity will be evident when you think of prayer like a set of traffic lights.

 

I’ve often prayed for something and then suddenly have had this sinking feeling deep inside, accompanied with a still, small voice that simply says ‘no.’

 

That’s the red light of the Holy Spirit that is sent in ‘answer’ to your prayer. The answer is simply, ‘no.’

 

If you readily accept and agree with that answer, you’ll know that you have changed.

 

‘No’ is an answer.

 

The amber light is also an answer.

 

It gives us the answer ‘wait, not yet’.

 

You may well be asking for the right thing, but you may be asking at the wrong time. That’s when the very humbling waiting game begins.

 

Your submissive response to amber is one of the clearest indicators that a change has taken place deep within you.

 

Amber is what will contribute to your spiritual growth more than most other things.

 

For every red and for every amber, there is just one green light.

In reality, that probably is not a bad gauge as to how many disappointing times you get a ‘no’ and a ‘wait’, compared to a resounding green light for ‘YES’.

 

The truth is though, all 3 are answers; they’re just not the answers you wanted or expected.

 

I pray that as we draw nearer to Jesus at the end of this 21-day fast, we would reflect on the simple words of an old song that we used to sing in Church…

 

‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me

 

Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me

 

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 59

Acts 10:1-4 ‘At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’

 

Cornelius was hungry for God to touch his family.

 

He was a well-respected man in authority, but he knew where his authority ended and where God’s began.

 

He modeled for us his daily belief that when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.

 

Notice that his prayers ‘stacked up’ in Heaven before they received God’s attention and intervention.

 

Remember, nothing leaves Heaven until something leaves Earth.

 

It’s almost like your persistent, daily prayer reaches a tipping point in Heaven, and when it does, get ready… God gets to know about it.

 

If you stop praying for something after a short while, it shows the level of its importance to you and to God.

 

The things that really matter should become an ongoing, daily prayer, accompanied by times of fasting. It’s those ‘important’ prayers that get Heaven’s attention.

 

Be encouraged to keep praying… make it your daily appointment with God.

 

Hebrews 6:12 ‘We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’

 

Hebrews 10:35-36 ‘So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 58

Daniel had been praying and fasting for 3 weeks when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, explaining that his prayers had been heard in Heaven since the first day that he had prayed, but the answer had been delayed for 21 days. (Daniel 10:12-14)

 

When you pray in alignment with God’s will, He hears.

 

You can rest assured that you have set something in motion in the supernatural, even if you can’t see anything happening in the natural.

 

Straight after Church this past weekend, a man came to share with me about a significant breakthrough that he had received following his decision to pray and fast.

 

He was owed a substantial amount of money from 2013, but had resigned himself to the fact that he was not going to get it.

 

A few days into the fast, he received a call from his solicitor to say that the money was going to be in his account that day. However, to the man’s surprise, the solicitor went on to say that he was not happy with the amount and was going to ask for double on the man’s behalf.

 

A few days later, the man received double what he had been owed!

 

What an amazing encouragement today to anyone that is praying and fasting for a breakthrough…

 

For this man, it was worth the 2-year wait, but notice that it only happened as he started to get serious about it in prayer and fasting.

 

Today… be humble, be persistent and be specific.

 

There are no rewards for praying vague prayers, no matter how spiritual they may sound.

 

Jesus put it like this…

 

Matthew 6:5-8 ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’

 

Remember… delay is not denial.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 57

Isn’t it interesting how we are willing to follow instructions from people without hesitation, yet when it comes to following instructions from God, we either question His wisdom or we think about it for so long that we end up not obeying Him anyway.

 

Take for instance a typical visit to the Doctors…

 

We walk into a room to be examined by someone that we don’t know, with a name that we can’t pronounce, who has handwriting that we can’t decipher, that prescribes tablets we can hardly swallow. Yet we pay close attention to the label on the bottle and follow exactly the instructions to take twice a day for three months.

 

If we forget to take one dose, we worry and quickly do our best to get back on track. If we go away on holiday or even just for the day, we make sure that we have them with us and we expect them to do us good.

 

What faith we have in man… yet what doubt we have in the one that created us in His own image.

 

When was the last time that you felt God speaking to you about something and you willingly abandoned yourself to His instruction with no questions asked?

 

Prayer and fasting is one of Gods amazing prescriptions for a blessed life. It’s a prescription that will draw you closer to God and give your spiritual life a real tonic.

 

As we embark on these last few days of our fast, don’t be tempted to just go through the motions of skipping meals, but take time out to spend time in prayer over the things that really matter.

 

Maybe you’ve resisted fasting because you felt it was unnecessary or too hard for you to do…

 

Why not start today and join thousands of others for the last week of the fast.

 

None of us understand how prescriptions work, but that never stopped you from taking the tablets; in the same way, just because we don’t understand the power of prayer and fasting, don’t let it stop you obeying Gods prescription for a breakthrough in your own life and in the lives of those around you.

 

I encourage you this week to have a real focus of praying honest and specific prayers, remembering to give thanks, no matter how bad things appear.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 56 (Caleb Burchell)

Towards the end of last year, myself, along with my parents were able to visit our friends in Seattle. Seattle is one of my favourite places to visit for a number of reasons. Amongst great people, food & shopping, the one thing that is evident about this city is its beauty in nature, especially in autumn time.

 

You find yourself surrounded by the most amazing array of colours that leave you astounded at the beauty of this season.

 

The thing that interests me about this time of the year is that some trees will die off, while others will display their full magnificence…

 

Out of that, I want to pose to you this question… How do you react to your season?

 

We are all on a journey, and we all find ourselves at different points on that journey. The season of my life right now will most likely be different to the season that you’re in. I may find myself in a valley, while you’re on a mountaintop, or vice versa.

 

Despite whatever it is that you’re facing right now, we all have to come to a defining moment within our lives where we choose to say ‘My circumstances will not define my character’. Or in other words, ‘What is happening around me will not affect what’s in me’.

 

In Psalm 1:3 (MSG) it says,

‘Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.’

 

Evidently, it is God’s desire for our lives that we would blossom & flourish in whatever season we are in, despite our circumstances, in the midst of our triumph and in the midst of our loss, God is looking for you to rise to your season, and display the true magnificence of His Son, Jesus, at work in your life.

 

God is looking to your response today… make it a great one!

 

Caleb

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 55 (Pastor Gillian)

The miracle that we are praying for, and the breakthrough that we are believing for, are often closer than we realise.

 

When you start to pray, God starts His action plan.

The problem is, because we don’t ‘see it’, we think that God is ignoring us, or has forgotten us, or is not going to answer at all.

 

Believe me, when we start to pray, something starts to happen.

 

In 1 Kings 17, the widow was desperate… she needed a MIRACLE. Without her knowing, God had already spoken to Elisha and had put the plan into motion.

Read verses 1-16 and you’ll see what happens…

 

The miracle was in her house! When God’s Word collides with your need and when you obey the voice of God, you’ll get your miracle.

 

What are you believing for today? Ask God if there’s anything YOU need to do in order to receive. And when He tells you, be ready to obey.

 

Your miracle is on its way.

 

Pastor Gillian

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 54

As well as being a chemist, an engineer and an innovator, Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite.

 

He was also well known for being a weapons manufacturer.

 

In 1888 Alfred’s brother died, but the newspaper carrying the story recorded by mistake that it was in fact Alfred, and not his brother Ludwig that had passed away.

 

The mistaken obituary column was headed up “the merchant of death is dead”.

 

As Alfred read of his own life that had ‘apparently’ now ended, he was stunned to read further… ‘Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by inventing ways to kill more people, faster than anyone had ever before, died yesterday.’

 

Alfred was devastated by what he would be remembered for and immediately set about changing his last Will and Testament.

 

He instructed that almost all of his estate, to the equivalent value of £150,000, be set aside to fund what would become known worldwide as the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

 

He had the rare opportunity to reassess his life and change it for the good.

 

Dr Alfred Nobel eventually died in 1896.

 

In much the same way today, God has afforded us the opportunity to re-evaluate our lives.

 

Ask yourself right now this one vital question… what would I be remembered for if I died today?

 

Would I be remembered for contributing life or death into the people that I’m privileged to be alive with right now?

 

What difference am I making in this generation?

 

Would you consider making a decision to live differently from this moment forward?

 

Sobering thoughts?

 

Maybe that’s what you needed… just like Alfred.

 

As you pray today, ask God to show you why He wanted you alive for such a time as this.

 

Luke 12:16-21 ‘And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

 

If you’re in need of a bible, then why not send us an email to info@championschurch.org.uk to request a free New Testament. We’d love to help you on your journey of discovering Jesus.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 53

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer.

 

He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and since has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.

 

One day he was seen walking around the city square, staring at a huge block of marble. He would look at it from one angle and then from another.

 

As a crowd gathered to see what the commotion was all about, a person shouted out to him and enquired what he was going to sculpt.

 

“A horse” he replied.

 

“How on earth are you going to produce a horse from such a huge rugged block of solid stone?” asked the person…

 

“Simple” he said, “I’ll just knock off everything that doesn’t look like a horse!”

 

And sure enough, little by little, with great patience and skill, a magnificent horse appeared after many hours of work.

 

Is it possible today that when you look at your own life, you only ever see the rough edges?

 

Inside of you right now is a dream that God has placed within your heart; however, we have to appreciate that for every success there has to be a process.

 

Everyday as you surrender your life to God, especially in this special time of prayer and fasting, God is in the process of knocking off the rough edges and removing everything that doesn’t look like Jesus.

 

It’s a lengthy and painstaking process, but knowing that God is the master craftsman means that he will produce a masterpiece out of your chipped, cracked and broken life.

 

Each time you feel that you’re going through a challenging time, each time that you feel bad about the way that you are, each time that you have to say sorry for doing and saying something wrong, remember that the master is at work in your life.

 

If you never feel challenged about anything in your life or never feel that you’ve let yourself or God down, then that’s the time to worry… you’ve become unworkable.

 

Remember that every beautiful diamond was once a piece of rock that was put under tremendous heat and pressure.

 

Allow The Holy Spirit today to work on your rough edges and make something beautiful out of your life.

 

Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

‘Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 52

A box of matches has no use until one match is taken out and ignited on the rough edge.

 

Its power and potential is not in its size, but in its usefulness outside of its box.

 

The box represents its safety, but it wasn’t made for safety. It was made to be the starter of a fire, giving heat, or igniting a candle, giving light.

 

The rough edge of the box is what ignites it into action.

 

All that matches do inside their safe environment is rattle around. They make a little noise, but are unable to achieve what they were created for.

 

In just the same way, if you don’t live outside of your box, you too will never live to your full potential.

 

Sometimes it takes a rough challenge to ignite you into action…

 

Want to be used? Then consider this…

 

In Matthew 25 we have the well-known story of the talents. Each of the 3 men were given talents to use. 2 of them went out and multiplied their talents through putting them to good use, but one of them buried his and it just lay dormant. It never produced anything and Jesus gave him a dressing down.

 

When asked why he hadn’t put his talent to good use, he simply said that he was ‘afraid’, so he buried it.

 

Here are 4 common excuses that will cause you to bury your talent. To overcome them, you have to step outside the box of your fears and only then will you live to your full potential.

 

  1. Self consciousness – Stop being so conscious of your SELF. Forget yourself with all its problems, and focus outward on all the good that you could do if you’d only step outside of your box.

 

  1. Self esteem – It says to you that everyone is better and more confident than I. All you end up believing is that you have nothing to offer. Low self-esteem is a box. Live beyond your ‘self’ and you will be amazed at how God can use you.

 

  1. Self indulgence – It’s all about me. It’s my talent and I’ll bury it if I want to.

Understand that your gifts and talents are on loan to you in order for you to make a difference. Burying what you have been given is not only selfish, but is a sure way of your potential getting smaller and smaller.

 

  1. Self assessment – I don’t like the way I look… I don’t like the sound of my voice… I’m not worthy.

All of this sounds very humble, but in truth… it’s all about you. Get over yourself and step outside of your box.

 

Jeremiah 1:4-10 ‘The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 51

Many years ago, we used to see a man pushing an old pram down the main dual carriageway of the town where we live.

 

He drew everyone’s attention, because for some reason he would never use the footpath, but insisted on walking in the gutter.

 

Who was the nameless, eccentric personality making his weekly journey with his pram, laden with wood and old bits of scrap?

 

One evening, Gillian and myself were visiting people door to door, with invitations to Church and asking if they had any needs that we could help with.

 

You can imagine our surprise when a figure appeared at the door of what seemed to be an almost uninhabitable terraced house in a tiny little side street.

 

We instantly recognised the figure as the man with the pram.

 

We were slightly apprehensive when to our surprise he invited us in for a chat.

 

We made our way through old newspapers stacked from floor to ceiling with just enough room to walk along into the dirtiest, darkest living room that we had ever seen.

 

He offered us a cup of tea, but taking one glance at the already dirty cups on the cluttered table, we thanked him but declined his kind offer.

 

For the next few months we went back each week with food parcels and became good friends.

 

Underneath it all, he was a precious human being that had lost his way in life and had been disowned by family and friends alike.

 

You can imagine how sad we were to hear that this old gentleman had passed away with hardly a friend in the world.

 

Months passed by and we stumbled on a newspaper article concerning his ‘estate’ that he had accumulated.

 

It turned out that he had been sitting on over £60,000 of cash.

 

Sadly, he could have lived in relative luxury, but instead, chose to live the life of a pauper.

 

As strange as it may seem, many of us live the same way in spiritual terms.

 

We choose to walk in the gutter.

 

We could live as sons of The King, yet we somehow lose our way and settle for a life of poverty.

 

Jesus made it clear that God is not a pauper or a scrooge, but that He invites us to receive from Him by asking in prayer.

 

John 16:23-24 ‘…Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’

 

It’s not the shortage of verses in the Bible that makes receiving from God so difficult, but more so the amount of verses in which He has to remind us to ask and receive, making asking so normal.

 

Mark 11:24-25 ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’

 

What an incredible inheritance God has given to us… don’t just sit on it and do nothing with it… ask and receive.

 

Blessed to be a blessing.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 50

I was 21 when I left home to go to Bible College.

 

Within a couple of days I had made friends with a more ‘mature’ student named Alan. He was married with 2 small children and lived off site in the next village.

 

He asked me if I’d like to attend the Church he went to near his home, and promised that if I did, I could go back to join his family for lunch.

 

Excitedly, I woke on that first Sunday away from home.

 

I put on my suit and tie and got ready to set out for Church as promised.

 

Everything seemed to be fitting together perfectly, and into the bargain I was going to get a home cooked meal… that was until my car wouldn’t start.

 

Fortunately, it was a beautiful summers day and I could see only one option, and that was to walk.

 

I didn’t want to let him down or miss Church, but truthfully, the thought of a Sunday lunch spurred me on.

 

As it was only my first week in Christchurch, I had not had chance to get my bearings and didn’t realise that my walk was six miles along the winding country lanes.

 

I got to Church just as people were leaving.

 

The Sunday lunch turned out to be meatloaf… enough said.

 

Often in life you have to be desperate enough to go places and do things that naturally you may shy away from.

 

As we begin this second week of prayer and fasting, you will find that it will be a test to see how desperate you are to push through and believe to receive what you have been promised.

 

The temptation will be to shrink back and take the comfortable route, rather than to sweat it out and get to where you promised.

 

In the book of Genesis, chapter 11, we read how Abraham and all his family set out for the Promised Land, but when they reached Haran they ‘settled’ there.

 

Haran is exactly half way to the Promised Land and literally means ‘parched and dry.’

 

Could it be that you are tempted right now to settle where it’s parched and dry, rather than taking that lonely and long walk to your promised destination?

 

Today, if you’re desperate enough, you won’t stop half way through the fast, but you will push on towards the goal, which in turn will bring incredible blessing, breakthrough and reward from God.

 

Maybe everything is against you right now and you just want to throw in the towel…

 

Maybe you’re looking at the 6-mile journey ahead saying ‘I can’t do it…’

 

Think again… you’ve started, so you CAN finish.

 

Notice how many times the Bible talks about diligently seeking God. It literally means ‘perseverance and determination.’

 

Hebrews 11:6 ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.’

 

Hebrews 10:36 ‘You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.’

 

Remember… we’re in this together.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 49 (Pastor Gillian)

Last year we went on a family holiday. When we arrived at our destination we had to get on a bus to take us to pick up our rental car.

 

Holidays, flights, delays, the unknown, family, can all cause a little stress and anxiety… I was thrilled to get on that bus and read the sign above the driver; “Your courtesy driver today is JESUS.” Yes that’s right, our driver that day was called ‘JESUS’. I however, read it as a little more…

‘Gillian, just remember that Jesus is driving your life today.’

 

You’ll only have Jesus driving your life if you’ve asked him to. It was a ‘courtesy’ service. That driver was there as part of the deal, it was included in what we’d signed up for.

 

I was immediately put at ease after the reminder that no matter what part of the journey I am on, no matter how tired I may feel, no matter how stressful family life is, Jesus has it covered.

 

When you say ‘yes’ to Jesus, He will willingly and lovingly take the drivers seat of your life and as long as you let Him remain there, you’ll never need to be concerned again.

 

I got off that bus and said, “Thank You Jesus”

 

Happy Saturday, with love

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 48

As you continue to fast and pray today, remember, some prayers are like space rockets and some are like tortoises.

 

A space rocket prayer is answered almost immediately after being prayed. You light the touch-paper and within seconds it’s reached its target.

 

If you’ve ever had one of those, you could be forgiven for thinking that’s the norm and therefore you will always expect immediate answers to prayer.

 

It’s not the norm!

 

In much the same way, if you’re a parent, you will not always give your child everything they want as soon as they ask.

 

So it is with God; He will often allow us to wait, in order to help us grow in the process.

 

The waiting prayer is what I like to call the ‘tortoise’ prayer.

 

It’s painfully slow, but eventually gets across the finishing line.

 

With this kind of prayer you will often be tempted to give up, but think of it like this; when you stop praying, the tortoise stops moving.

 

How many of us have failed to see our prayers come across the finishing line because we gave up thinking it would never happen?

 

As you continue to pray specifically today, remember, the tortoise of your answered prayer is closer to the finish line than you think.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 47

I remember hearing the story of a man who kept a private list of fifteen men that he prayed for every day of his life.

 

Each day he would pray for all fifteen by name.

 

Some of them were alcoholics, some of them criminals and some of them just plain old atheists.

 

His prayer was simple… “JESUS, I want each of these men to be transformed by you and for them to acknowledge you as their Lord and Savior in my lifetime.”

 

The years rolled by and one by one he was able to tick the names of the men off his list as they came to know Jesus and have their lives transformed.

 

As he lay dying, he was perturbed that his prayer for just one remaining hardened man had still been unanswered.

 

Would it be that this man would escape his prayers? …Sadly he never lived to find out.

 

However, the day of his funeral came and at that very service the man that he had prayed for almost all his life, surrendered his life to Jesus.

 

Fifteen out of fifteen…

 

Sometimes you can pray for something, but you don’t see the answer right away or maybe not even in your lifetime.

 

Keep praying.

 

Hebrews 10:35-36 ‘So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.’

 

It may be that the thing you’re praying for is not ready or is not in God’s perfect timing yet.

 

Your prayers will not be ignored or discarded.

 

Prayers don’t have an expiration date, so keep praying for that loved one that seems to be a million miles away from God, keep praying for that impossible situation, keep believing for God to move.

 

He is doing much more behind your back than He is in front of your face.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 46

One of the longest times that I had ever prayed for something happened in 1985.

 

I had started to make prayer lists of things that I wanted to see happen.

 

My list would have very specific content based on this verse of the Bible…

 

Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’

 

Each time that I made a specific list, I would place a date at the top of the page so that I would know how long it took for the prayer to be answered.

 

I would only remove something or someone from the list when I saw the answer to prayer.

 

On this occasion it was four years from praying to the time of receiving the answer.

 

Since then, I’ve prayed for much longer periods of time before seeing God move in a situation.

 

‘PUSH’ is a great acrostic that will help you to grow some serious prayer muscle during this time of prayer and fasting and beyond.

 

Pray Until Something Happens.

 

Jesus made up this great story to show us how important this is…

 

Luke 18:1-5 ‘Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’

 

Feeling bad that you keep asking God for the same thing time and time again?

 

Often God wants to test you to see if what you’re asking for is really important to you.

 

Remember… pray consistent, persistent, specific prayers.

 

Vague prayers require vague faith, resulting in vague answers.

 

PUSH!

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 45

I went to bed last night with a splitting headache.

 

I got up early this morning for prayer… I had the same headache.

 

The pain is due to three days without coffee.

 

I know that it will soon subside when my body gets used to the idea that it’s not getting caffeine.

 

I don’t like it, but it’s worth it.

 

No gain without pain.

 

As we fast from things that make us comfortable, we need to remind ourselves as to why we are doing this.

 

Fasting brings us to a place of physical weakness, but out of that, we come into a place of spiritual strength.

 

There’s something very humbling about fasting. It’s brings with it a quietness and a subdued way of living for a few short days; but look at what happens to you…

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ‘But He (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’

 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that physical weakness during a prolonged fast means that you are weak in every area.

 

Some of your greatest days of real strength will be evident during this 3 week fast.

 

A few years ago I made my way to South Africa after a 10 day fast. I arrived pretty weak and thin. I felt that I had nothing to give to the couple of hundred people that waited in the line for a miracle, after one of the first services.

 

I was physically exhausted as more and more came for prayer, and just as I was about to leave, a lady came rushing in to ask for prayer for a man that was dying with cancer. The man was at home in bed. He was not a Christian and didn’t believe in ‘that kind of stuff’.

 

In total weakness I prayed over a handkerchief that the lady had bought in order to take it back and lay it on her sick friend.

 

Just a few days later the man reported that he had been for a scan and the five tumors, the size of tennis balls, had completely disappeared.

 

Feeling hungry… join the club!

 

Push through and see Gods power released into your life.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 44

Let’s talk prayer and fasting for the next 3 weeks.

 

One of the things that the enemy hates most about fasting is persistence.

 

When Jesus ended his 40 day fast, the Bible says… “The devil left him.”

 

As you persist, before long, one week becomes two and then you’re in the final stretch and nothing can hold you back.

 

A number of people over the years have told me that they didn’t want to stop fasting when the last day came!

 

Some of the greatest miracles I’ve seen in my own life have come through persistence, not least of all the miracle of the building of Champions Church.

 

From the time that God instructed me to buy the land, to the time of the completion of phase one, 17 years had passed. That’s 17 years of prayer, fasting and persistence.

 

Here’s a thought to take you through today as you fast and pray… PERSISTENCE BREAKS RESISTANCE

 

One of the greatest examples of pushing through and seeing a miracle is seen in Luke 8:42-48

 

…. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’

 

She felt the power of Jesus because she touched Him by being persistent.

 

If you haven’t already done so, start to make a list of the things that you would like to see answers to during this special time.

 

Pray over them during the time that you would normally be eating.

 

Remember… whatever forces have been resisting what God wants for your life; your persistent prayer and fasting will break down the resistance and bring about miraculous results.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 43 (Pastor Gillian)

A line from a famous song says, “I’m gonna pack up my troubles and throw them all away.” If only it was that easy…

 

A lot of the time we do try to pack them up, however it’s usually temporarily, because as soon as we’re reminded of them, they come bursting out again.

 

An injection of faith, a great moment of inspiration, a great time of worship, time in prayer, helps us pack them away and hand them over.

 

That, however, is where they need to stay.

 

The Bible tells us to ‘cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you’ (Psalm 55:22). And ‘cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Nowhere in those verses does it suggest we take it back again.

 

I like to think of it like packing my suitcase of all my worries, fears, concerns and problems and handing it to Jesus.

 

Don’t see it like that suitcase check-in at the airport, where you hand it over for a few hours, but then you go and pick it back up again.

 

Today why not put your fear in and take away faith in an Almighty God?

 

Why not put your doubts in and take home confidence in Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or think?

 

Why not put your troubles in and take home His peace?

 

Why not put your worries and concerns in and take home His hope for a brighter future and a better tomorrow?

 

Don’t be tempted to pick your luggage back up. Leave it with the one who cares for you, the One who can help you.

 

Happy Saturday, with love

 

Pastor Gillian

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 42

Have you ever been made to feel that you are always the problem?

 

Have you ever been made to feel that everything that you do is not quite right?

 

Ever tried talking to someone about a problem situation, only to walk away being made to feel that you are the one that’s wrong?

 

Do you ever walk around on ‘eggshells’ when a certain person is around?

 

Do you wake up some mornings fearing meeting that person?

 

I know that this is going to sound over simplistic, but here’s what I’ve found to be true…

 

If George and John have a problem…

 

If George and Sarah have a problem…

 

If George and Joe have a problem…

 

If George and Lisa have a problem…

 

If George and Lucy have a problem…

 

If YOU and George have a problem, then guess what…

 

… George is the problem!

 

Don’t allow him to take you down today.

 

It’s not your problem. Live free of George.

 

(With apologies to any George’s out there that are really not a problem. I just chose a random name)

 

Proverbs 29:25 MSG

‘The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 41

This year will be no different to any other, in that it will present to all of us temptations of varying degrees.

 

All temptation will be an attack on our minds; a scud missile to encourage us to leave what we know to be right, in favor of doing what is completely opposite to the values we uphold, a fiery dart to disable the one thing that is our greatest asset… character.

 

Oscar Wilde said… “I can resist everything but temptation.”

 

It takes years to earn the coveted title of being someone with a great reputation; after all, the only thing that people have to gauge our lives on is our track record. Yet, within seconds, we can lose that reputation, never to fully regain people’s trust.

 

Proverbs 22:1 ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.’

 

One of the reasons that many people make bad judgments when it comes to succumbing to temptation is that we fail to read the danger signs along the way.

 

Just in case you don’t know what those signs look like, here is my version of the road to destruction…

 

Tempting

 

Fun

 

Exciting

 

Easy

 

Frequent

 

Habitual

 

Misery

 

Ruin

 

Before you ever dare to step out onto this very slippery slope, know this; it will end in disaster.

 

You WILL lose everything and it will be a hard road back.

 

I pray that the words of Jesus will be a great comfort and help to anyone facing the strong pull of temptation today.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’

 

Make up your mind in advance.

 

Refuse to go there.

 

Just say NO.

 

“You can’t stop the birds flying over head, but you can stop them nesting in your hair.” – Oscar Wilde.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 40

Without focus, we can live very ineffective lives.

 

Ask yourself a simple question today; having lived through another full year of 2014… what did you accomplish?

 

Listen to the wise words of Solomon when he writes in Proverbs 6:6-11 (The Message Bible)

 

…You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!

 

Several years ago, a well-respected leader gave me 3 challenges to live by. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure that I fully agreed with them at the time, but nevertheless I looked at them until I could appreciate what each of them meant.

 

All these years later, I can now look back having made them a daily goal and report that they really help the mind to focus on what’s important.

 

I would like to share them with you today…

 

1) Don’t live for what’s urgent, live for what’s important.

 

If you don’t plan out your day and maximize your time, then guess what… lots of ‘urgent’ things will plan your day for you and the day will be lost.

 

I’ve found that very few urgent things are actually urgent. They usually can wait. Prioritize your time. Work, rest and play.

 

2) Don’t live for success, live for significance.

 

Success is all about you looking good.

 

Significance is all about living your life to the full so that you will be in a position to make a difference for others.

 

3) Don’t live to bless, live to build.

 

When I first read this I was frantically spending my life racing around blessing as many people as I could. I was speaking in as many Churches that invited me and I was burning out fast.

My children took the brunt of a Dad who was often too busy to be relaxed, and I was often angry because I was running on empty and unable to be at peace with myself.

 

All of that was as a result of me taking my sense of worth from blessing as many people, and things, as I could pack into any given day.

 

The wake up call came when a very dear friend of mine who had modeled the exact same kind of lifestyle died prematurely.

 

When I looked at the life he had left behind, I saw that he seemingly had very little to show for his life of racing around blessing everyone that asked. The sad thing was that his wife had left him, his kids were nowhere to be seen and there was nothing built that had lasted.

 

I made up my mind that the greatest thing I could do with my life was to build. To build a strong marriage… A strong family… A strong and happy home… To be a strong lover and leader of people, and to build a strong Church that would impact future generations.

 

When you live to build, you have in mind not just the ones and twos that you could bless, but the thousands that you could impact after your life has gone.

 

1 Corinthians 15:58 ‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 39

A concert pianist was asked the secret of her success. The answer was simple; planned neglect.

 

When asked to explain what she meant, she said, “I plan to neglect to do everything that is not making me the very best musician that I could be.”

 

She said, “I don’t do the things that I’m not good at; I only do the things that lead me to the goal.”

 

For many of us, as we get back into the routine of working life, we suddenly face the prospect of having so many things going on in our minds that we achieve very little because of ‘overcrowding’.

 

For those of you that have ever watched an old fashioned Circus, you will recall that the Lion Tamer came out with just a three-legged stool in his hands.

 

Have you ever asked why?

 

The answer is simple; the Lion is created to only be able to focus on one thing at a time, namely his prey, so that when he looks at the three legs on the stool, it paralyses his brain and renders him incapable of doing what he was created to do.

 

Now of course, we all have to multi task every day, but the question we have to ask ourselves is, what will you give yourself fully to this year, so that you can make a difference with the one life that you have?

 

The alternative is to run around like a busy fool, but at the end of the day achieve no lasting results.

 

What do you need to free your mind from thinking about this year, so that you can focus on making a difference and being the best at what God has called you to do?

 

Stop trying to be average at so many things, instead, focus your mind on making a difference with the one thing or few things that you are good at.

 

Ecclesiastes 10:10 ‘If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.’

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 38

I can still remember the cold winter nights huddled up in front of the coal fire when I was just a young boy.

 

My Dad would be out at the little church prayer meeting and my Mom would be at home unraveling an old jumper of mine that she had knitted a few years earlier.

 

You didn’t just throw stuff away in those days; times were hard, so instead she would unpick the stitching and use it all over again.

 

As the wool would start to unravel from the old jumper, she would wind it round my hands to keep it in an orderly fashion.

 

It wasn’t an option to go and shop for a new jumper, instead, we would spend an evening looking at colour pictures of new jumpers in a pattern book. When the new style was chosen my Mom would frantically knit for hours on end.

 

The night would eventually come when she would do the final sewing of the seams together and there it was, my old jumper now in a brand new style. The wool was the just the same, but everyone thought that I had a new sweater.

 

As we contemplate having a new mindset for this new year ahead, take a look again at this important verse from the New Testament…

 

Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…’

 

We see the word ‘pattern’ and then we see the word ‘renew’.

 

The actual meaning of ‘renew’ is to ‘re-do’.

 

Just like my Mom unraveled the old and ‘re-did’ according to the new pattern… that’s exactly the picture.

 

Renew your old mindset by redoing your mind.

 

Instead of keep wearing that old sweater with all its old snags, pulls and holes… undo it and choose a new pattern.

 

The new pattern for living is found in the Bible.

 

Make a commitment to read a few verses from it each day and you’ll be amazed at the new look… a good place to start would be Matthew’s Gospel.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 37 (Pastor Gillian)

We all love to watch that race when the runner falls, we all hold our breath waiting to see what happens, and then it gets awesome… He gets up and he not only catches up with the rest of the competitors, he wins the race! Yes! What an achievement, what a comeback.

 

The problem with some people is that when they fall, they stay down.

 

Remember this, the longer you take to get up when you fall down in the race, the further you’ll get left behind.

 

So the next time you trip, lose your balance or fall flat on your face, get up and get up quick…you can still win that race.

 

Make your setback your comeback.

 

Hebrews 12:1

‘Let us throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

 

Happy New Year, with love from

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 36

I trust that you feel totally different today than what you did in 2014… NO? I thought not.

 

Just because the number on the calendar changed, it doesn’t magically change you, your problems or your surroundings.

 

Everything is just the same, apart from the calendar and your age.

 

Everyone has high expectations for a brand new year, but within the first week it’s business as usual.

 

Over the next few days I want to help you to take your focus off having a new year and to focus on having a new mind.

 

If God pours another new year into that old mentality that you have, it’s just going to be like the old year.

 

As someone once pointed out, the definition of insanity is to do what you’ve always done and expect different results.

 

There was a story on TV about a pair of twins. The one became a successful family man and leader in his community, but his brother spent most of his violent adult life in prison.

 

When they were interviewed, they were asked what they thought was the major cause of how their lives turned out.

 

Surprisingly, both men gave the same answer: “How else could I have turned out with father that I had?”

 

Both men grew up in the same, abusive circumstances at the same time, but the difference between their lives was in their mindset.

 

You have the opportunity to waste another whole year doing the same old things, with the same old people, with the same old mentality, with the same old results, OR you can embrace it with a new mindset.

 

Take for instance the old mindset that says “I’ll do things when I feel like it”. That’s exactly why you do so little…

 

Rarely do we ‘feel’ like doing a lot of things that are important.

 

The new mindset says we do them because they are important, however we feel.

 

With a renewed mind, no devil in hell and no set of circumstances can stop you from having a blessed and prosperous year.

 

Romans 12:1-2 MSG

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

 

Romans 12:2 NIV

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – New Years Day

One of the things that I’ve noticed in my own life with the passing of years is an appreciation for things that previously had gone unnoticed or least, taken for granted.

 

Driving through the countryside, I notice the colour of trees…

 

An appreciation for every day that I get to live on this Planet…

 

I’ve even started to listen to the ‘actual’ words of old favorite classic pop songs that I grew up on.

 

One of my favorites would have to be by the Bee Gees called ‘You should be dancing’.

 

The main part of the song in terms of lyrics has always sounded like complete gibberish to me, however on closer inspection, 30 years later, I can now sing the real words, which being deciphered are ‘what you doin’ on your back’.

 

Maybe this has come as a complete revelation to you as well.

 

Go on… sing it out loud. The words do fit if you try hard.

 

At the age of 14, I became the Church organist at the little Chapel that Champions Church grew out of.

 

For years I would play old-fashioned hymns that rarely meant anything to me as a teenager. I couldn’t understand the language, let alone have any meaning for my life.

 

Today, however, I’ve been recalling one of those ‘vintage’ songs and found it not only moving, but also perfect for the opening of 2015.

 

I know you may not know the tune, but I do hope that the words will become a great foundation for you as we launch into the gift of another beautiful year.

 

God holds the key of all unknown, and I am glad

If other hands should hold the key

Or if He trusted it to me, I might be sad.

 

What if tomorrow’s cares were here, without its rest?

I’d rather He unlocked the day, and, as the hours swing open, say,

My will is best.

 

I cannot read His future plans

But this I know

I have the smiling of His face

And all the refuge of His grace

While here below.

Enough; this covers all my wants

And so I rest

For what I cannot, He can see

And in His care I saved shall be

Forever blessed.

 

Joseph Parker 1830-1902

 

Happy New Year!

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.